0169-6009/92/S05.00 C 1992 Elsevier Science Publishers B.V. All rights reserved.
Bone and Mineral. 19 (1992) 45-62 ' 45
Prostaglandin E 2 prevents ovariectomy-induced
cancellous bone loss in rats
Hua Zhu Ke ab , Mei Li a and Webster S.S. Jee a
a Division of Radiobiology , University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City. UT, USA
ti Bone Biology Laboratory. Zhanjiang Medical College, Guangdong Province, People's Republic of China
(Received 3 March 1992)
(Accepted 21 May 1992)
The object of this study was to determine whether prostaglandin E 2 (PGE 2 ) can prevent ovariectomy-
induced cancellous bone loss. Thirty-five 3-month-old female Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into two
groups. The rats in the first group were ovariectomized (OVX) while the others received sham operation
(sham-OVX). The OVX group was further divided into three treatment groups. The daily doses for the
three groups were 0, 1 and 6 mg PGE 2 /kg for 90 days. Bone histomorphometric analyses were performed
on double-fluorescent-labeled undecalcified proximal tibial metaphysis (PTM). We confirmed that OVX
induces massive cancellous bone loss ( — 80%) and a higher bone turnover (+ 143%). The new findings
from the present study demonstrate that bone loss due to ovarian hormone deficiency can be prevented by
a low-dose (1 mg) daily administration of PGE 2 . Furthermore, a higher-dose (6 mg) daily administration
of PGE2 not only prevents bone loss but also adds extra bone to the proximal tibial metaphyses. PGE 2 at
the 1-mg dose level significantly increased trabecular bone area, trabecular width, trabecular node density,
density of node to node, ratio of node to free end, and thus significantly decreased trabecular separation
from OVX controls. At this dose level, these same parameters did not differ significantly from sham-OVX
controls. However, at the 6-mg dose level PGE 2 , there were significant increases in trabecular bone area,
trabecular width, trabecular node density, density of node to node, and ratio of node to free end, while
there was significant decrease in trabecular separation from both OVX and sham-operated controls. The
changes in indices of trabecular bone microanatomical structure indicated that PGE 2 prevented bone loss
as well as the disconnection of existing trabeculae. In summary, PGE 2 administration to OVX rats
decreased bone turnover and increased bone formation parameters resulting in a positive bone balance
that prevented bone loss (in both lower and higher doses) and added extra bone to metaphyses of OVX
rats (in higher dose). These findings support the strategy of the use of bone stimulation agents in the
prevention of estrogen depletion bone loss (postmenopausal osteoporosis).
Key words: Prostaglandin E 2 ; Prevention; Ovariectomy; Cancellous bone; Architecture; Bone remodeling
Correspondence to: Webster S.S. Jee, Ph.D., Building 586, Division of Radiobiology, University of
Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 841 12, USA.
The positive bone balance (anabolic) effects of exogenous prostaglandin E 2
(PGE 2 ) on bone are well known: daily administration of PGE 2 can increase
bone mass in both animals [1-12] and man [13-15].
Previously, we reported that exogenous PGE 2 not only increased bone mass in
intact male and female rats by activating bone modeling and remodeling in favor
of bone formation [16-22], but also restored bone to osteopenic ovariectomized
(OVX) rats [16-18]. In light of these facts, we postulated that PGE 2 will prevent
ovariectomy-induced bone loss if given immediately following ovariectomy. The
present study tested this postulate. It used a 90-day experimental period to allow
both bone loss in OVX rats and bone gain in PGE 2 -treated rats to reach a new
steady state [19,23]. This period equals at least two to three bone remodeling
Materials and Methods
Thirty-five 3-months-old virgin female Sprague-Dawley rats, weighing approxi-
mately 255 g (Charles River Laboratory, Inc., Portage, MI) were acclimated to
local vivarium conditions (24 C C and 12 h/12 h light-dark cycle) for 7 days. During
the experimental period, each animal was housed in a separate plastic module (21
x 32 x 20 cm) and allowed free access to water and a pelleted (commercial)
natural-product diet (Rodent Laboratory Chow 5001, Ralston-Purina Co., St.
Louis, MO), which contained 1.46% of calcium, 0.99% of phosphorus and 4.96
IU/g of Vit. D 3 . The rats were divided into five groups (6-9 rats per group). The
first group (six rats) was sacrificed at day for baseline or basal controls. Group 2
(six rats) was sham-OVX and treated simultaneously with a vehicle injection for
90 days. Groups 3-5 were OVX and treated simultaneously with (six rats), 1
(eight rats) and 6 (nine rats) mg PGE 2 /kg/day, respectively, for 90 days.
All rats, except those killed at day 0, received daily injections of 1 ml/kg PGE 2
or a vehicle solution. Powdered PGE 2 (The Upjohn Co., Kalamazoo, MI) was
prepared as previously . Groups 2 (sham-OVX controls) and 3 (OVX con-
trols) received a vehicle (20% ethanol) while group 4 (OVX + 1 mg/kg/day)
received 1 mg/ml, and group 5 (OVX + 6 mg/kg/day) received 6 mg/'ml daily
subcutaneously on the back .
All rats received a subcutaneous injection of 25 mg/kg of tetracycline (Acho-
mycin-tetracycline hydrochloride; Lederle Laboratory, Pearl River, NY) on the
14th and 13th day and 10 mg/kg of calcein (Sigma Chemical Co., St. Louis, MO)
on the 4th and 3rd day before sacrifice.
At autopsy, all rats were anesthetized by intraperitoneally injecting a mixed
solution of 50 mg/kg of ketamine hydrochloride (Veterinary Products, Bristol
Laboratories, Div. of Bristol-Myers Co., Syracuse, NY) and 10 mg/kg of xylazine
(Mobay Corporation, Animal Health Division, Shawnee, KS) at 1 ml/kg body
weight. The rats were exsanguinated by heart puncture and the serum was stored
frozen, but was not analyzed because there were numerous publications on the
subject [11,16,19,25,26]. The lungs, liver, adrenal glands, spleen, kidneys and
thymus were removed and weighed. These organ weights were normalized to
body weight as follows: mean body weight of all rats divided by body weight of
each rat times organ weight.
The left tibiae were removed and stored in 70% ethanol for the measurement of
tibial length. The length of left tibia was measured using a Boley Millimeter
Caliper Gauge (The L.S. Starrett Co., Athol, MA).
The right tibia was removed, dissected and cut into three equal parts. The
proximal third was processed to 100 /im and then microradiographed. Thereafter
sections were further ground to a thickness of 20 /zm and coverslipped for
morphometric measurements [16,19-21,25-28].
Using a Video Image Analysis System and KSS Image Analysis, we measured
total tissue area, trabecular bone area and perimeter to calculate percent
trabecular bone area, trabecular width, number and separation  in micro-
radiographs of proximal tibial metaphyseal area between 1 and 4 mm distal to the
growth plate-metaphyseal junction , We also measured the microanatomic
trabecular bone structural indices which were previously defined by Garrahan et
al. [3 1-34]. The indices included: number of nodes, node to node, node to free end,
cortex to node, free end to free end and cortex to free end. These numbers were
normalized to total tissue area and trabecular bone area in order to calculate their
tissue- and bone-based densities. These indices provided data on the intercon-
nectedness of the trabecular bone structure and on the number of structural
elements. Node to node and cortex to node indicated interconnectedness. while
free end to free end, node to free end and cortex to free end represented a lack of
interconnectedness. When the trabeculae or struts were connected, the node to
free end ratio was high, and low when the structures were broken [31-34].
A digitizing image analysis system (DIAS) was used for the static and dynamic
histomorphometric measurements of the proximal tibial metaphyseal area be-
tween 1 and 4 mm distal to the growth plate-metaphyseal junction (same as in
microradiographs). The parameters included total tissue area, trabecular bone
area and perimeter, eroded perimeter, osteoid perimeter, and trabecular wall
width, single-labeled perimeter, double-labeled perimeter, and interlabel width
(at the trabecular surface and the growth plate-metaphyseal junction region).
These parameters were used to calculate percent trabecular bone area, trabecular
width, number and separation , as well as percent osteoid perimeter, percent
eroded perimeter, percent labeled perimeter, mineral apposition rate, bone for-
mation rate-bone area and tissue area referent, formation period, resorption
period, remodeling period, quiescent period, activation frequency and longitudi-
nal growth rate [16,17,19-21,25-29,35]. We included an additional observation
and measurement, the frequency and the amount of diffusely labeled trabecular
bone, which has been defined previously . Furthermore, we confirmed the
presence of woven bone by the irregular orientation of osteocytes and collagen
bundles by bright field and polarized light microscopes . This parameter
represents woven bone formed at 14, 13 and 4, 3 days before sacrifice when
fluorescent markers were injected, and it underestimates the total amount of
woven bone . We estimated the mean accumulated longitudinal growth as
follows: ((LGR basal + LGR rmal )/2) x 90 days (newly generated metaphysis
during the study period).
Statistical differences between basal controls and other groups were evaluated
using the two-tail Student Mest. The statistical differences between age-matched
control and treatment groups were evaluated using ANOVA with Dunnett's r-test
Effects on body weight
Figure 1 shows changes in body weight with time. Compared to sham controls,
the body weight of OVX control rats began to increase 20 days post OVX and
continued increasing until 60 days post OVX, then plateaued thereafter. This
finding is consistent with findings by others [38^40,46,49]. In OVX rats treated
with 1 mg PGE 2 /kg/day, body weight increased by 12 to 18% from sham controls
but was unchanged from OVX controls, while in OVX rats treated with 6 mg/kg/
day, body weight increased compared to sham controls (8 to 10%), but decreased
compared to OVX controls (6 to 12%).
Effects on soft tissue weights
Figure 2 shows the changes in soft tissue weights after normalization to body
weight. Compared to basal controls, spleen weight decreased (8%) in sham
controls. Compared to sham controls, OVX control rats exhibited decreased
liver and lung weights (8 and 9%), and increased spleen and thymus weights
(14 and 55%). In PGE 2 -treated OVX rats (1 and 6 mg/kg/day), there was an
Body weight (g)
.-+ 1— --f h OVX Controls
OVX+ 1 mg
OVX+ 6 mg
Fig. 1. Time course of body weight changes in sham-operated controls, OVX controls and PGE 2 -treated
OVX rats. "/><0.05 vs. sham-operated controls; *P<0 .05 vs. OVX controls; ><0.05 vs. OVX + 1 mg.
A. Liver weight (g)
C. Kidneys weight (g)
E. Adrenal glands weight (g)
n n< -
B. Lungs weight (g)
D. Spleen weight (g)
F. Thymus weight (g)
Fig. 2. Organ weight changes in basal controls, sham-operated controls, OVX controls and PGE 2 -treated
OVX rats. Y error bar represents standard deviation. f P<0.05 vs. basal controls; "/><(). 05 vs. sham-
operated controls; *P<0.05 vs. OVX controls; Y<0.05 vs. OVX + 1 mg.
increase in weight of liver (12 and 55%), lungs (13 and 31%), adrenal glands (27
and 53%), and a decrease in weight of thymus (26 and 54%) compared to OVX
controls. In the OVX rats treated with 1 mg PGE 2 /kg/day, kidney weight
decreased (11%) while adrenal gland weight increased (15%) when compared
to those of sham controls. In the OVX rats treated with 6 mg PGE 2 /kg/day,
A. Tibial length (mm)
Fig. 3. Effects on tibial length in basal controls, sham-operated controls, ovariectomized controls and
PGEi-treated ovariectomized rats. Y error bar represents standard deviation. *P<0.05 vs. basal controls;
'"P<0.05 vs. sham-operated controls; V<0.05 vs. OVX controls; ><0.05 vs. OVX +■ 1 mg.
increases in weight of the liver (42%), lungs (19%), spleen (14%) and adrenal
glands (39%) were seen when compared to those of sham controls.
Effects in tibial length
Figure 3 shows the changes in left tibial length: 37.7 + 0.92 mm at day (3 months
of age) and 39.0 + 0.4 mm at day 90 (6 months of age), a significant increase with
age. The tibial length in OVX rats treated with 1 and 6 mg PGE 2 /kg/day were
longer compared to sham-OVX (39.7 + 0.56 mm at 1 mg and 39.4 + 0.31 mm at 6
mg vs. 39.0 ±0.4 mm at sham-OVX).
Qualitative observation of microradiographs
The primary spongiosa and growth plate were thinner in sham controls than in
basal controls (Figs. 4B vs. A). No obvious bone mass change was found in the
secondary spongiosa between basal (3 months of age) and sham (6 months of age)
controls. Thinner and more dense primary spongiosa and less bone mass
Fig. 4. Microradiographs showing cancellous bone changes in proximal tibial metaphyses from basal (A),
sham-operated (B), OVX (C) controls and OVX rats treated with 1 (D) and 6 (E) mg PGE 2 /kg/day.
Thinner primary spongiosa and less bone mass throughout the whole metaphysis were observed in OVX
control (C) than that in the sham control (B). Bone mass in OVX rat treated with 1 mg of PGE 2 (D) was
greater than that in OVX control (C) and about equal to that in sham control (B). Bone mass in OVX rat
treated with 6 mg of PGE 2 (E) was greater than that in both OVX (C) and sham (B) controls ( x 10.5).
throughout the entire metaphysis were observed in OVX controls than in sham
controls (Figs. 4C vs. B). In the 1-mg PGEi/kg/day-treated OVX rat metaphysis,
the primary spongiosa was wider, the bone mass was greater, and the trabeculae
were thicker than in OVX controls (Figs. 4D vs. C), and equal to that in sham
controls (Fig. 4B). The primary spongiosa width, bone mass and trabecular width
in the 6-mg PGE 2 /kg day-treated OVX rat metaphysis (Fig. 4E) was much wider
than that in any other group (Figs. 4A-D).
Effects on bone mass and microanatomical structure
Figures 5-7 and Table 1 show that trabecular bone area, width, number, separa-
tion and microanatomical structural indices changed in aging, OVX controls and
OVX rats treated with 1 and 6 mg PGE 2 /kg/day.
Effects of aging. Between 3 and 6 months of age, there was no significant
difference in trabecular bone area, width, number and separation, and all tissue-
Trabecular bone area (%)
B. Trabecular width (u.m)
C. Trabecular number (#/mm)
D. Trabecular separation (jim)
Fig. 5. Static histomorphometric indices of the proximal tibial metaphyseal trabeculae in basal, sham-
operated and OVX controls and PGE2-treated OVX rats. Y error bar represents standard deviation.
V<0.05 vs. basal controls; "'P<0.05 vs. sham-operated controls; */><0.05 vs. OVX controls; V<0.05
vs. OVX + 1 mg.
based structural indices (Figs. 5 and 6, Table 1). However, when sham controls
were compared to basal controls, the trabecular-bone-based density of node,
node to node, and node to free end increased while cortex to free end and free
end to free end decreased (Fig. 7).
A. Node/TV (#/mm A 2)
B. Node to node/TV (#/mm A 2)
C. Cortex to node/TV (#/mm A 2)
D. Cortex to free end/TV (#/mm«2)
E. Free end to free end/TV (#/mm A 2)
F. Node to free end/TV («/mm»2)
Fig. 6. Tissue-area-based microanatomical structural indices of [he proximal tibial metaphyseal trabeculae
in basal, sham-operated, OVX controls and PGE 2 -treated OVX rats. Y error bar represents standard
deviation. t /'<0.05 vs. basal controls; ®/ > <0.05 vs. sham-operated controls; */ > <0.05 vs. OVX controls;
"/><0.05 vs. OVX + 1 mg.
Effects ofOVX. Compared to sham-operated controls, OVX resulted in: (1) an
80% decrease in percent trabecular bone area, and a 77% decrease in trabecular
number; (2) 960% increase in trabecular separation (Fig. 5); (3) a decrease in all
tissue-based microanatomical structural indices (from 60% to 97%, Fig. 6); (4) a
A. Node/BV (#/mm A 2)
B. Node to node/BV (#/mm A 2)
C. Cortex to node/BV (#/mm A 2)
D. Cortex to free end/BV (#/mm A 2)
E. Free end to free end/BV (#/mm A 2)
F. Node to free end/BV (#/mm'2)
Fig. 7. Trabecular-bone-area-based microanatomical structural indices of proximal tibial metaphyseal
trabeculae in basal, sham-operated, OVX controls and PGE2-treated OVX rats. Y error bar represents
standard deviation. f /><0.05 vs. basal controls: ®P<0.05 vs. sham-operated controls; *<0.05 vs. OVX
controls; 'P<0.05 vs. OVX+ 1 mg.
decrease in trabecular-bone-based density of node (85%), node to node (89%),
node to free end (90%), and an increase in the indices for free end to free end
(102%) and cortex to free end (282%) (Fig. 7). The ratio of node to free end
decreased to 13% of those of basal and sham controls (Table 1).
Effects ofPGE; on O VX rats (compared to O VX controls). In PGE 2 -treated OVX
rats, trabecular bone area, width and number increased and trabecular
separation decreased. Trabecular bone area increased 343 and 626% over
OVX controls for 1- and 6-mg PGE 2 /kg, day-treated OVX rats. Similarly
trabecular width increased 35% for the 6-mg dose, and trabecular number
increased 233% and 359% for the 1- and 6-mg doses. Trabecular separation
decreased 87% and 91% for 1- and 6-mg PGE 2 /kg/day-treated OVX rats (Fig.
5). In 1- and 6-mg PGE 2 /kg/day-treated OVX rats, all tissue-based structural
indices increased from 79 to 2187% (Fig. 6). Trabecular-bone-based density of
node, node to node and node to free end were elevated while free end to free end
and cortex to free end declined in 1- and 6-mg PGE 2 /kg/day-treated OVX rats
(Fig. 7). Further, there were 6- and 10-fold increases in node to free end ratios
after 1 and 6 mg PGE 2 treatment (Table 1).
Effects of PGE : on OVX rats (compared to sham controls). In PGE 2 -treated OVX
rats, trabecular bone area in 1-mg PGE 2 /kg/day-treated OVX rats was
unchanged (Fig. 5A), but trabecular number declined by 21% and trabecular
width was elevated by 23% (Figs. 5B and C). At the 6-mg dose level, percent
trabecular bone area increased by 61% and trabecular width by 44% (Fig. 5). In
1-mg PGE 2 /kg/day-treated OVX rats, the tissue-based density of cortex to node,
free end to free end and node to free end were lower than sham controls (22 to
37%) (Fig. 6). None of the trabecular bone-based microanatomical structure
indices differed from sham controls at both 1- and 6-mg dose levels (Fig. 7).
Effects on longitudinal bone growth and growth plate thickness
When compared to the rate of longitudinal growth at 3 months of age, the
longitudinal growth rate at 6 months of age had decreased by 71%. However
OVX controls showed a 21% increase in longitudinal growth rate over sham-
Ratio of node to free end of proximal tibial trabeculae a
Ratio vs. basal vs. sham vs. OVX vs. OVX + 1 mg
Basal controls 0.23 ±0.04
Sham controls 0.23±0.08 -3% (ns)
OVX controls 0.03±0.05 —87% (/ > <0.001) -87% (/><0.00l)
OVX + 1 mg 0.20 + 0.05 -15% (ns) -13% (ns) +578% (/ > <0.05)
OVX + 6mg 0.34±0.22 +45% (ns) +50% (ns) + 1054% (V<0.05) +72% (ns)
a Calculated as: node no. /(free end to free end no. + cortex to free end no. + node to free end no),
ns: nonsignificant difference.
OVX controls (Fig. 8A). In the 6-mg PGE 2 -treated OVX rats, longitudinal
growth rate increased compared to sham (48%) and OVX (22%) controls (Fig.
8A). Growth plate thickness decreased in sham controls compared to basal
controls, while it increased in ovariectomized rats compared to sham controls
(33%). During the experimental periods, there was a 5.8 + 0. 1 -mm new metaphy-
sis generated (mean accumulated longitudinal growth) in sham-OVX control rats,
while there was a metaphysis of 6.1 ±0.3, 6.3 ±0.2 and 6.5 ±0.2 mm in OVX
controls, 1- and 6-mg PGE 2 -treated OVX rats, respectively (Fig. 8C): an increase
in the latter three groups from the sham controls (Fig. 8C).
Effects on dynamic histomorphometry
Effects of aging. There were significant decreases in labeled perimeter (33%),
bone- and tissue-area-based bone formation rates (38 and 46%, respectively),
and significant increases in the formation (49%) and resorption (1 12%) periods
in sham-OVX controls (6 months of age) compared to basal controls (3 months
of age) (Figs. 9B, D and E, 10B and C).
B. Growth plate thickness ((im)
C. Newly metaphysis generated (mm)
Fig. 8. Longitudinal growth rate, growth plate thickness and newly generated metaphysis of proximal
tibial metaphyses in basal, sham-operated, OVX controls and PGEwreated OVX rats. Y error bar
represents standard deviation. *P<0.05 vs. basal controls; ^PkO.OS vs. sham-operated controls;
*P<0.05 vs. OVX controls; 'P<0.05 vs. OVX ■*■ 1 mg.
Effects of ovariectomy. There were increases in percent osteoid perimeter
(167%), labeled perimeter (109%), bone formation rate-bone area referent
(126%), eroded perimeter (80%) and activation frequency (245%), and
A. Osteoid perimeter (
Labeling perimeter (%)
C. Mineral apposition rate (|im/d)
D. Bone formation rate/BV (%/y)
E. Bone formation rate/TV (%/y)
F. Eroded perimeter (%)
Fig. 9. Dynamic histomorphometric indices of the proximal tibial metaphyseal trabeculae in basal, sham-
operated. OVX controls and PGEi-treated OVX rats. Y error bar represents standard deviation. V<0.05
vs. basal controls; ,a */ 3 <0.05 vs. sham-operated controls; *?<0.05 vs. OVX controls; ><0.05 vs. OVX +
significant decreases in bone formation rate-tissue referent (51%), trabecular
wall width (42%), formation period (39%), resorption period (70%), quiescent
period (83%) and remodeling period (52%) in OVX controls compared to sham-
OVX controls (Figs. 9 and 10).
A. Trabecular wall width (|im)
B. Formation period (days)
C. Resorption period (days)
D. Quiescent period (days)
E. Remodeling period (days)
F. Activation frequency (#/year)
Fig. 10. Trabecular wall width, formation, resorption and quiescent periods and activation frequency of
proximal tibial metaphyseal trabeculae in basal, sham-operated, OVX controls and PGE 2 -treated OVX
rats. Y error bar represents standard deviation. V<0.05 vs. basal controls; ( */ , <0.05 vs. sham-operated
controls; "P<0.0S vs. OVX controls; ><0.05 vs. OVX + 1 mg
Effects of PGE 2 on OVX rats (compared to OVX controls). There was a
significant decrease in percent osteoid perimeter (27 and 28%), and a significant
increase in mineral apposition rate (15 and 29%), bone formation rate-tissue
area referent (291 and 652%) and wall width (146 and 170%) in 1- and 6-mg
PGE 2 -treated OVX rats (Figs. 9 and 10A). Bone formation, resorption,
quiescent and remodeling periods were shortened (from 79 to 244%), and the
index of activation frequency of bone remodeling decreased (71 and 53%) in
PGE 2 -treated OVX rats (Figs. 10B-F).
Effects of PGE : on OVX rats (compared to sham-OVX controls). Except for
mineral apposition rate in 1-mg PGE 2 -treated OVX rats, all bone formation
parameters were either increased significantly (42 to 270%) or, in the case of the
bone resorption parameter, was not changed in the 1- and 6-mg PGE 2 /kg/day-
treated OVX rats (Figs. 9A-F). Wall width was thicker by 56% in 6-mg PGE 2 -
treated OVX rats (Fig. 10A). Bone formation, resorption, quiescent and
remodeling periods, and activation frequency were nonsignificantly changed in
PGE 2 -treated OVX rats (Figs. 10B-F). Furthermore, diffuse-labeled new bone,
as an index of woven bone formation, was seen in all 1- and 6-mg PGE 2 /kg/day
treated rats (0.01 1 ±0.006 mm 2 at 1 mg and 0.022 + 0.004 mm 2 at 6 mg,
respectively) and was not seen in any basal, sham-OVX or OVX controls.
Some interesting cancellous bone data were generated between sham-operated
controls (6 months of age) and basal controls (3 months of age). Between 3 and 6
months of age, the trabecular bone area, width and number was nonsignificantly
decreased in proximal tibial metaphyses. But the dynamic parameters show that
trabecular labeling perimeter, bone formation rates (bone area and tissue area
referent) and longitudinal growth rates declined significantly, while formation
and resorption periods were elevated significantly, and trabecular eroded peri-
meter was not significantly different. Taken all together, these changes indicate
that aging decreases bone formation, prolongs bone remodeling, but does not
change bone resorption. The age-related changes in the indices of trabecular
microanatomical structure indicate that the nonsignificant decrease in trabecular
bone area between these ages coincides with the thinning of trabeculae and the
loss of some disconnected trabeculae (CTF and FTF). At the same time there was
no loss of connected trabeculae (NTN). The net effect was that the connections
per unit bone area (node/BV and NTN/BV) were improved. Possibly, the
explanation is that the mechanical loading on disconnected trabeculae is less
than that in connected trabeculae, so that the disconnected trabeculae will be the
first to go in age-related bone loss.
The ovariectomy-induced bone loss rat model is widely accepted for studying
the prevention and treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis [39^*0]. In young-
er rats, ovariectomy results in a dramatic decrease in cancellous bone mass
associated with an increase in bone turnover with bone resorption exceeding
formation [38-46]. Our findings of a decrease in trabecular bone area, the
increment of percent eroded perimeter, percent osteoid and labeling perimeter,
bone formation rate-bone area referent, and the decrement of formation, resorp-
tion, remodeling and quiescent periods in OVX control rats are consistent with
findings reported previously [38-46]. Mineral apposition rate was increased
significantly in OVX rats in other reports [23,44,47], but this change was not
seen in the current study. Wronski et al. reported that longitudinal growth in
proximal tibial metaphyses increased significantly in OVX rats 14 and 35 days
post ovariectomy and returned to control levels thereafter [23,38,42-44]. How-
ever, we still observed a significantly increased longitudinal growth rate at 90 days
post ovariectomy. The activation frequency index was elevated in our OVX rats
which further confirms the increment in bone turnover. Even though bone
formation per unit bone area increased in OVX rats, bone formation rate-tissue
area referent declined in OVX rats, indicating the absolute bone-forming area
decreased in these rats.
We also detailed the changes in microanatomical structural indices of trabe-
cular bone in proximal tibial metaphyses in OVX rats in the current paper, data
lacking in previous reports [38-46]. These indices showed that the OVX-induced
bone loss is accompanied by decreased interconnectedness of normal trabecular
structural pattern. The decreased interconnectedness of trabeculae was most
obvious when one compares the ratio of node to free end between OVX and
basal and sham-OVX control rats (Table 1).
The findings from the present study demonstrate that bone loss due to ovarian
hormone deficiency can be prevented by a low-dose (1 mg) daily administration of
PGE 2 . Furthermore a higher-dose (6 mg) daily administration of PGE 2 not only
prevents bone loss but also adds extra bone to the proximal tibial metaphyses.
PGE 2 at the 1-mg dose level significantly increased trabecular bone area, trabe-
cular width, trabecular node density, density of node to node, ratio of node to free
end, and thus significantly decreased trabecular separation from OVX controls.
At this dose level, these same parameters did not differ significantly from sham-
operated controls. However, at the 6-mg dose level PGE 2 , there were significant
increases in trabecular bone area, trabecular width, trabecular node density,
density of node to node, ratio of node to free end, while there was a significant
decrease in trabecular separation from both OVX and sham-operated controls.
The changes in indices of trabecular bone microanatomical structure indicated
that PGE 2 prevented bone loss as well as the disconnection of existing trabeculae
Prevention of bone loss after ovariectomy by many agents, such as estrogen,
parathyroid hormone, bisphosphonate have been studied [39,40,47-58]. Estrogen
prevents bone loss induced by ovariectomy by inhibiting bone turnover and bone
resorption [39,40,47-50]. Bone loss after ovariectomy can be prevented and
restored by human parathyroid hormone by retarding bone resorption and
enhancing bone formation [52-57]. Bisphosphonate decreases both bone forma-
tion and resorption in ovariectomized rats so as to prevent bone loss . Unlike
the other agents [39,40,47-58], PGE 2 given to OVX rats does not inhibit the
increment in percent eroded perimeter induced by ovariectomy, instead it stimu-
lates lamellar bone formation, activates woven bone formation and creates a
positive bone balance. Surprisingly, PGE 2 -treated OVX rats had lower bone
turnover rate than the OVX controls did (decrease in activation frequency
index, and increase in formation, resorption and quiescent periods), since we
previously reported that when PGE 2 was given to intact rats for 30 and 60 days, it
increased bone turnover in favor of bone formation compared to age-related
Finally, we conclude that PGE 2 can prevent bone loss due to estrogen
deficiency (ovariectomy) and add extra cancellous bone to these ovariectomized
rats by stimulating bone formation exceeding resorption, and activating woven
bone formation. Our findings support the strategy of the use of bone stimulation
agents in place of anti-resorptive agents in the prevention of estrogen depletion
bone loss (postmenopausal osteoporosis).
This work was supported mainly by a grant from the National Institutes of
Health (AR-38346). It was also partially supported by a research contract and
grant from the Department of Energy (DE-AC02-76EV001 19 and DE-FG02-
89ER60764), and a grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administra-
tion (NAG-2-435). We thank Dr. Charles Hall and Mr. Ronald E. Lane of the
Upjohn Company for the PGE 2 . We also thank R.B. Setterberg and Drs. Q.Q.
Zeng, L.Y. Tang and B.Y. Lin for their expert assistance and advice.
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